Utilising the couple relationship to maintain independence for longer.
Living Together with Dementia (LTwD) aims to improve the quality of life and mental health of couples living together with dementia. It is an innovative, couple-focused psychosocial intervention supporting couples to remain at home together for longer.
Thanks to innovation grant funding, small LTwD programmes have been run in Camden and City & Hackney since 2013, with initial results showing the intervention supports the stability of the couple relationship, with positive trends towards a reduction in perceived burden in the carer role.
Developed by Tavistock Relationships’ CEO Andrew Balfour (a couple psychotherapist, adult psychotherapist and a chartered clinical psychologist for over 25 years who has taught and published internationally in the area of old age and dementia), the LTwD approach has been co-designed with service users and expert dementia support providers.
Tavistock Relationships’ pilot work with couples revealed a need for support at the point of dementia diagnosis when couples report feeling abandoned and without emotional support. GPs often report a reluctance to diagnose dementia as there is a paucity of therapeutic options to refer on to once the diagnosis is made, and other healthcare professionals report that they lack the skills to work with couples.
Tavistock Relationships trains health and social care professionals to work with couples following a dementia diagnosis, delivering the LTwD interventions through home sessions with the couple. LTwD sessions use shared involvement in everyday activities as a basis for enhancing understanding and communication, mobilising existing strengths and addressing negative cycles of interaction which often accompany dementia.
LTwD is entirely person-centred, working with the uniqueness of each couple’s life experiences and being tailored to their strengths and needs. Uniquely, it draws on the resilience of the couple relationship and its ability to survive and act as a protective resource in order to improve the quality of life of both partners.